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ALSACAT:

As its name suggests, ALSACAT is my comprehensive catalog of UFO sighting reports in Alsace, the region is the North-East of France, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ALSACAT catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file. A general index and thematic sub-catalogs give access to these Alsatian case files.

Case of Batzendorf, on November 5, 1990:

Case number:

ALSACAT-1995-11-05-BATZENDORF-1

Summary:

Among the testimonies of the observations in the evening of November 5, 1990, in the newspaper Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace for November 7, 1990, there is a quote from Jean-Marie Keller, of Batzendorf, who said that the apparition lasted 30 to 40 seconds, that it moved southwest to the northwest in the direction of Germany, without any noise.

He said the "speed of the object was controlled," there were white lights, one larger than the others, and at the back "another headlight that lit and extinguished periodically" and a dozen other lights.

This was, of course, one of the numerous sightings of what was absolutely not a "UFO", but the flaming debris of a Russian Proton that crossed the sky of France from the South-West to the North-East on that day and time.

In 2015, Jean-Marie Keller appeared in a TV show claiming the event was a "UFO flap" in France, though they mentionned the commonplace explanation. This late testimony showed no strangeness that would put the explanation in doubt.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: November 5, 1990
Time: ?
Duration: 30 to 40 seconds.
First known report date: November 7, 1990
Reporting delay: Hours, 2 days.

Geographical data:

Department: Bas-Rhin
City: Batzendorf
Place: ?
Latitude: 48.783
Longitude: 7.706
Uncertainty ratio: 700 m

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 1
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 1
Witness(es) ages: Adult or aged.
Witness(es) types: Male.

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Statement to the regional Press.
Type of location: ?
Visibility conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: ?
UFO departure observed: ?
Entities: No
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: ?
Witnesses interpretation: ?

Classifications:

Hynek: NL
ALSACAT: Space junk reentry.

Sources:

[Ref. dn2:] "DERNIERES NOUVELLES D'ALSACE" NEWSPAPER:

Weird

The mysterious lights in the sky...

Meteorite, satellite fall, UFOs ... Scientists put forward several hypotheses.
The National Space Agency launches investigation

But what has happened the sky of Alsace on Monday night? Did a large meteorite disintegrate on re-entering the atmosphere over France? Did a satellite crash on Earth? Or a piece of rocket? A space station? Or... or did aliens (if they exist - and we do not yet have proof of that) want to impress earthlings by an exceptional luminous "show"? Let's be serious. And keep our feet on Earth.

Still, the UFO of Monday, observed in the Alsatian sky and in several European countries, provides a hard time to scientists. While some experts have a priori plausible explanations, others are less certain and are reluctant to rule in favor of one hypothesis. The least that can be said is that the Alsatian testimonies we gathered all day at the DNA are rather puzzling...

The UFO Monday night was a meteorite that exploded on re-entering the atmosphere, said yesterday a spokesman for the Popular observatory of Munich. The object moved from east to west and was followed by a trail of smoke. Scientists await more detailed information on the luminous phenomenon from 25 automatic cameras installed in southern Germany to watch the meteor appearances. In a few days, experts hope to determine the exact trajectory of the object and locate the point of impact where some fragments of the meteorite of Monday could be found. This is the apparently logical and plausible explanation of the strange phenomenon of the other night.

"Passed by a shooting star"

And the observation of a pilot on the Brussels-Frankfurt route would confirm "the German hypothesis". He asserts [that] shortly after 7 p.m. his plane was passed by "a shooting star" that erupted in a dozen pieces, some of which had the glow of the full moon.

But here it is. The return of a meteorite in the atmosphere is a rapid phenomenon that lasts at most a few seconds. And all the evidence that we collected yesterday in the "Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace" - and there were about twenty - reported a slow process that has lasted, for some, twenty seconds, for others, up to two-three minutes.

"I observed the appearance for 15 to 30 seconds," said Jean-Paul Blind of Valff. "I saw the lights above the Mount Sainte-Odile heading to Strasbourg. It was like two large white lights followed by a big trail and flanked of 8 to 10 reddish lights resembling side lights."

"The apparition lasted 30 to 40 seconds, says Jean-Marie Keller of Batzendorf who saw the phenomenon "moving from the southwest to the northwest in the direction of Germany. The speed of the object was controlled, it has not made a sound. The lights of which one was larger were white. At the back there was another headlight that lit and extinguished periodically. And I've seen a dozen other lights..."

"They were three V-shaped objects that came from Saverne and headed for Germany," says Mr. Ferry of Hochfelden. "Behind, there was a fourth light" and the diamond shape was "followed by at least 9 other bright spots. The object flew over the sky for three minutes before disappearing."

A "large sphere"

Even more fantastic, the testimony of Mrs. Clouet, of Neufgrange, who observed Monday night around 7:05 p.m. a "big dark sphere suspended in the sky, covered of many square illuminated portholes like windows. As the sphere was motionless, 6 to 7 luminous balls followed by a trail moved away in the sky. I was very impressed, so was my 7-year-old son Michael, who accompanied me, but I was not afraid..."

For Pierre Neirinck of Dunkirk, member of the Tracking Committee of the British Royal society, the mystery is explained: "The intriguing procession of multicolored lights observed over western Europe was characteristic of the disintegration of an artificial satellite." The report by Mr. Karcher of Wittenheim (see DNA for yesterday) "confirms the dozen decays followed since 1960. It is easy to differentiate a satellite from a meteor: the satellite crosses the sky in a little more than one minute, the fireball does it in 2 to 20 seconds..." After analyzing several witnesses reports, the fall of a satellite or rocket remains is the most plausible explanation of the phenomenon for Mr. Karcher.

F 117 planes?

Other hypotheses have been advanced such as the overflight of France by a patrol of the famous invisible F 117 aircraft that would have been at the origin of UFOs of Belgium in April...

Mrs. Acker, director of the Strasbourg planetarium, sticks, for now, to scientific explanations, while admitting that the slowness of the phenomenon is intriguing. It is the same with Christian Morgenthaler of the association "Lumières dans la nuit" (delegation for UFOs in North Alsace), who aims to collect a maximum of testimonies about this strange phenomenon, in cooperation with SEPRA (Service of study of the phenomena of atmospheric re-entry) of the National Centre for Space Studies (*).

CNES has by the way also announced last night the opening of an investigation into the luminous phenomenon that seems at least strange. At this stage it is not possible to decide on the exact origin of this event, said a statement from CNES. The sky still keeps its mystery. For how long?

Willy BODENMULLER


(*) Christian Morgenthaler, 3, rue des Pierres, 67520 Odratzheim, phone 88 50 64 26.

[Ref. fm1:] FRANCK MARIE:

JM ??H?? 67 BATZENDORF (40 s)

48°47n -7°42e 1 witness (Dern. Nouv. d'Alsace, 11/7/90)

"The apparition lasted 30 to 40 seconds," said Jean-Marie K. from Barzendorf [sic] who saw the phenomenon "moving from the southwest to the northwest in the direction of Germany. The speed of the object was under control. It made no noise. The lights of which one was larger were white. At the back there was a headlight that lit and extinguished periodically. And I've seen a dozen other lights."

  • Transit: SW/NE,
  • Controlled speed
  • No noise
  • White lights
  • Back headlight that blinked periodically

[Ref. ra1:] ROBERT ALESSANDRI:

OBSERVATIONS FILE NOVEMBER 5, 1990

Reference;Place;Latitude;Longitude
Time;Duration (sec);Heading;Passage at the closest
Angular elevation;Dimension(m/km);Distance Atmospheric re-entry (origin/passage at the closest)
Description
Remarks

________________________________________

67C;BATZENDORF; 48.78;-7.7
;35;NE;
;; 1015/-6
White lights including a larger one, periodic headlight at the front

[Ref. sn1:] EMISSION TV "DOSSIERS SURNATURELS":

This documentary claims that on November 5, 1990, over France, a "UFO Night" occurred. Testimonials are presented, in a sensationalist manner, without any hindsight, without quantitative precisions, until the middle of th show. Real witnesses are interviewed, actors "play" the scenes. In the middle of the show, the explanation by a return of rocket debris is expressed, but at the end of emission, with an apparent "atypical case", the question of the explanation is left open.

Among the testimonials presented, that of Jean-Marie Keller, interviewed at home, his presentation illustrated by an actor standing on the scene or a similar place, and playing the "pursuit" of "the UFO" by car. The remarks made in the documentary are:

Voice-over: Since that day, Jean-Marie Keller has become an amateur astronomer. This carpenter had never imagined that one day he would be passionate about stars and UFOs.

Voice-over: That evening, at Batzenforf in Alsace, Jean-Marie Keller leaves his studio to fetch wood in his yard.

Jean-Marie Keller says:

"I look up to look what time it is before going to sleep and I see lights above the church, a multitude, I do not know how much but... it was huge, you know. At first I thought ok, it may be a plane that has a failure, which will crash, but given the size I said but it is not possible, it is, it would be a huge thing!"

Jean-Marie Keller says:

"One saw a rather dark mass, one could not see the stars through it. There was a multitude of lamps around the object. At the front of this thing there was a little more light, you know. It was fixed, it was lit, er, and in the back, I saw another light, which lit and went out periodically. I was impressed, already by the, by the speed, it was fairly regular, huh, it was about the speed of an airship, and no noise, no smoke, nothing, there was nothing that was coming off, nothing."

Jean-Marie Keller says:

"That thing moved above my head, yes, just above me, like a, like the ceiling of a huge building."

Voice-over: Jean-Marie Keller is upset. He will then react in an insinctive manner and start an unbelievable pursuit of the UFO.

Jean-Marie Keller:

"One thinks about everything, how I'm going to do to, so that I can see it better or see it or witness it, I have to go somewhere to see it in the open, huh. I took my car and got out of the village."

Jean-Marie Keller:

"I circled, I went at three... I went at least six kilometers and I went in all directions. I saw nothing anymore, but nothing, absolutely nothing. And yet there I should have seen something, because where I was there was open sky about in a radius of... forty to fifty kilometers."

Voice-over: Desüpite his efforts to follow it, the phenomenon diappeared from Jean-Marie Keller's field of vision.

Above: The interviewed witness, Jean-Marie Keller.

Above: "Reocnstitution" of the observation, with an actor, by the "Dossier Sunaturels" show.

Discussion:

On 5 November 1990, one or two minutes after 07:00 p.m., a very commonplace phenomenon occurred, explained, and devoid of any actual strangeness, but it nevertheless started a UFO delirium of some of the French ufologists.

The sightings started with an explosive decay over the Bay of Biscay in France, resulting in combustion fragments seen from afar, and generally, as they approached, seen as a group of three main lights - hence it was called a "triangle" - of large angular size, and followed by trails of smoke and sparks.

Once over land, the thing was seen from different angles and at various distances by people on the ground, which gives a range of quite diverse descriptions.

The thing crossed France following a line approximately from Bordeaux to Strasbourg, in silence, in a straight line without any maneuver, in two to three minutes, reaching Strasbourg at about 07:06 p.m.

There were also sightings reported from the South of England, London, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, but not beyond.

In the evening, several Gendarmerie brigades contacted the National Center for Space Studies to report what people told them. Gendarmes brigades of Angers and Tulle got the chance to see the display themselves. In the evening, the Press service of the armies, SIRPA, confirmed that military pilots had seen something without being able to formally identify it. Near Paris airports of Orly and Roissy, the luminous phenomenon was seen from the control towers. Hundreds or even thousands of civilians reported their sightings to the authorities, the Press and other media.

Radio stations, television channels, newspapers, talk of a UFO, then a meteor, and finally the correct explanation appeared through information given by NASA: it was the entering in the atmosphere of the remains of a Russian Proton rocket launched from the Baikonur space center to put a Gorizont 21 satellite in orbit. Calculations had predicted the fallout of the rocket debris at its 36th orbit, crossing France from the South West to the North East on November 5, 1990 around 07:00 p.m.. SEPRA, then officially in charge of such matters, provided this explanation to news agencies on November 9, 1990.

In November 5, 1990 already, an amateur expert in satellites and space debris impact trajectory calculations, Pierre Neirinck, had seen himself, and had also identified the phenomenon, independently of NASA, as space junk from the Proton rocket.

Any sensible ufologist should have understood what is was from the beginning, given the descriptions, and at least understand thereafter that it was a classical space junk case. But some ufologists refused to hear anything about a rocket and continued to talk and write about it as a "UFO flap", of "400 UFOs" or even "thousands of UFOs", often mixing other, unrelated sightings that were more or less of the same day, sighting who have other explanations. This resulted in the continuing presence of this explained case as massive UFO sightings in some of the UFO literature, and of course this includes observations made in Alsace.

Evaluation:

Space junk reentry.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editeur: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross May 24, 2015 Creation, [dn2], [fm1], [ra1].
1.0 Patrick Gross May 24, 2015 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross April 25, 2018 Addition [sn1]. In the Summary, addition of the paragraph "In 2015..."

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This page was last updated on April 25, 2018.